Thursday, August 13, 2009

Office Politics: The 3 Step Guide to Coming Out Ahead

How to End the Office BS

It is not a matter of if. You will inevitably become tangled in office politics. It is simply a matter of time.

When I first started working, I was naïve to think that I could merely do my job and the quality of my work would be all I need. Two years into corporate America, I now realize that involvement in office politics is unfortunately unavoidable.

Months ago I had learned my lesson. A coworker had slandered me in an effort to look good for the boss. I was new on the job so I didn’t fight it but professionally it hurt me. I vowed that I would never be thrown under the bus again.

My chance came to honor that vow last Monday when I received a scathing email from a different coworker reaming me for not finishing a project. She even had the stones to attempt the corporate coup d'état (CCing my boss). But she was flat-out wrong. Project finished, and delivered. She didn’t bother to check.

Luckily I calmed down enough to realize that could turn this situation around for the better.

The 3 Step Process:

1. Decide if the fight is worth it: Sometimes knowing when to fight is better than knowing how. Pick your battles but walk away from most. If you must go to the
mattresses then go to step 2.

2. Throw a (soft) punch: Call out your coworker’s drama as unproductive and adolescent. Be fairly vocal about how their behavior is childish. But remember, don’t be defensive or hostile, that’s worse than being guilty. Your tone should be 90% informative 10% condescending. Make sure to educate your coworker about their false assumptions, politely. I guarantee if you openly address the office drama, they’ll consider bringing it up again.

3. Offer a Dove: Send an email explaining your previous hard stance. Explain that you’re sorry if you were curt but were warranted by their actions. Mention that you look forward to getting back to a successful working environment.

Using these steps, I was able to turn what would have been a black eye into a strong No-BS message. I looked confident for my strength, and compassionate for my forgiveness. It was a win-win for me.

Be tough, be kind. In that order.

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